Author Archives: Sharief Hendricks

The Real Heroes of Universities

by Sharief Hendricks

The real heroes (or heroines if you like) of our tertiary institutions are the administrators and support staff. And like true heroes, their superpower often goes unnoticed, unrecognised.

No doubt, a University will not function without the work of the administrative and support staff. Our research, travel, teaching, and every day would not be possible.

The superpower though, is the care, kindness and generosity in their work. Work that is aimed to help us achieve our goals.

This time of the year, as we process postgraduate applications for the upcoming year, I always remember the kindness and generosity of our Faculty’s Postgraduate Office when I was a student applying to the Honours programme (back in 2007). The Postgraduate Office frequently shares this fond memory with me, a memory that serves our current working relationship well.

I always needed help with my student administration, and visited the Postgraduate Office more than usual, which I think provided me with the opportunity to experience their superpower. I can’t help wonder though, in today’s age, where everything is online and most communication takes place via email, are students and staff missing out on similar opportunities?

I have many stories similar to the above, where the care regularly goes beyond the call of duty. A more recent example is my trip to a conference in Monaco. On the Saturday, the last day of the conference, South Africa was issued a travel ban and my flight home got cancelled. True to form, my heroes emerged, and what could have been a complete nightmare without their kind and generous support, finding my way back home turned out to be somewhat of an adventure instead.

Have you experienced the superpower of your administrators and support staff? Please share.

As thanks for their work, I wanted to end off with naming all the administrators and support staff that have used their superpower to help me achieve my goals, like an author list on a paper. I decided against this though, in fear of missing a hero (and there are many heroes to mention). Also, like many of our favourite fictional superheroes in suits, anonymity is not a bad thing. So I’ll simply end with thank you.

Running and Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: What makes you weak at the knees? — Rugby Science

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a knee condition associated with anterior knee pain when loading the knee in movements like squatting, stair climbing, running and jumping (Ferber et al., 2015). Due to its high prevalence and running becoming an increasingly common form of exercise, it is important that high quality evidence regarding treatment and preventative […]

Running and Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: What makes you weak at the knees? — Rugby Science

The Shot Heard Around the World: Achilles Tendon Injuries — Rugby Science

by Ashleigh Thomas If you’ve heard or experienced an achilles tendon rupture, you’ll know exactly what the title is alluding to. If you don’t know, an achilles tendon rupturing sounds like a gunshot, and it’s as painful as it sounds. Researcher Gregory Hess, in his 2010 review of “Achilles Tendon Rupture” in the Foot and […]

The Shot Heard Around the World: Achilles Tendon Injuries — Rugby Science

FIFA 11+: An effective way to reduce injuries in amateur soccer players? — Rugby Science

by Aminah Emeran Soccer is arguably the most popular sport globally, with an estimated 200 million players worldwide (1). There are many health benefits of playing soccer, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and hypertension (2). Despite its health benefits, soccer also poses a significant risk of injury (3), particularly to areas such […]

FIFA 11+: An effective way to reduce injuries in amateur soccer players? — Rugby Science

Wimbledon – it’s not all just strawberries and cream — Rugby Science

by Jenna Bloom When you’re watching Wimbledon, have you ever wondered how busy the doctors and physiotherapists are behind the scenes? Well, McCirde et. al. (2016) wanted to determine the rate of injuries that occurred during Wimbledon, which could assist scientists to eventually develop measures to prevent injuries. (3) They study found that there were […]

Wimbledon – it’s not all just strawberries and cream — Rugby Science

Overuse injuries in basketball: A dribble of sprains and pains — Rugby Science

by Tumelo Lethule  Basketball has become one of the most popular sports in the world and has given us the pleasure of gushing over NBA stars such as O’neal, James, Curry and of course, the legendary Jordan. As a non-contact sport, basketball remained one of the safest sports ever played. However, as the sport seems […]

Overuse injuries in basketball: A dribble of sprains and pains — Rugby Science

Personal growth

by Chelsey Voegt

It’s been approximately 140 days since I began the most thought-provoking and demanding but overall, the most enriching season of my life. I really mean that.

The 15th of February 2021 brought with it excitement, lots of enthusiasm but also lots of nervousness. After having finished the entire undergraduate degree online, with minimal social interaction, we all of a sudden had to learn to adjust to this new normal where social distancing, wearing a mask and trying to not contract COVID were daily responsibilities. In-person activities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was scary at first but we survived. Let’s just say I didn’t think I would have made it this far.

The beginning of my honours year was challenging to say the least. I remember going home each day with this whirlwind of emotions that the day had stirred up in me. How was I going to remember all these concepts? How would I remember the 600 muscles in the body let alone their origin and attachment points as well as the actions they permitted? Was I good enough for this degree? How do I socialize but still stay safe during the pandemic? How much time do I have left to drop-out? These are just some of the thoughts that went through my mind during the first month of my honours season. Nevertheless, like with all things, it got easier. Or perhaps I just learnt to manage it before it could manage me.

These are some things I’ve learnt along the way:

  1. Perhaps a career in research would be an option someday.
  2. You are going to read about 8-10 articles a week so learn to love readying but also you don’t need to grasp each idea immediately. 
  3. Even after years of being highly organised and managing my time well, there were still moments when it felt as if things were falling apart. These moments are important because they remind us that we are human.
  4. Not to be afraid of participation marks. It is the best thing that has happened in this degree so far. It forces you to grapple with difficult things and confront those challenging questions. It teaches you to not only challenge your understanding and bias but also exposes you to others’ opinions.
  5. Reflection at the end of the day is super helpful as it allows you to see what you’ve accomplished for that day, even if it is not what you planned on doing.

So as we go through lockdown levels,  be kind to yourself and those around you. Check-in on your friends. Make time for exercise and most importantly organise zoom coffee chats because we are all cravings some social interaction right now. 

Where has the time gone?

by Saleha Suleman

When I started my undergraduate degree three years ago, the first thing our lecturer told us in our very first class was that she had reviewed 126 applications from students for the Honours programme in that year, and only 12 were selected. This of course was met by gasps throughout the class, because how could it be that we were a class of over 200, and not even 10% of us would be eligible for Honours? My friends and I knew from that day onwards that we had one goal – to perform extremely well so that we could achieve our goals in science and in research. 

Over the three years with our stress levels increasing exponentially, we lost sight of this goal every once in a while, but fast-forward to 2021, here we are, living the goal we had set for ourselves. We all ended up branching out into different degree programmes and different universities, and it was definitely a goal of mine to be accepted into what is considered the top university in Africa. 

The content we have been learning from the time we started Honours is honestly extremely interesting, and I have loved that we generally look at recent journal articles to learn our concepts, as it seems so much more real. It isn’t just theory we are learning about what may or may not be in used in the field, but it is actually real scientists conducting very real experiments, sometimes in our own labs. I have also loved working in the lab. The fact that cells have a mind of their own kind of makes it more fascinating to work with them, because they really teach you flexibility! Recently though, I realized that since the course has started, I have barely gotten a chance to appreciate any of this. Honours programmes are hard in general, given the limited time we have to complete everything, however, it feels as though the pandemic has made learning a completely different experience.

On a phone call with my family last month, I casually said that I would rest when I was dead, and this was met with a burst of laughter from my family. It was then that I realized that no matter how much stress we are facing in our daily lives, whether it is just because of the workload or because of the added Zoom fatigue, exhaustion from the pandemic or the grimness of world politics, it is important to just take a moment every once in a while, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. That weekend, I decided to go for a hike as my version of relaxation and taking a moment to breathe. I made a resolution that weather (and practicality) permitting, I would go more often than I do now, because it is simply rejuvenating! So even though I have no idea where the first six months of the year have flown, and even though I find myself constantly needing more than 24 hours a day, here’s to hoping that the next six months will continue to be more exciting, but also more mindful.

Me Time

by Belinda Nzadi

If there was one word I could use to sum up my 2021 studying experience, I’d use “relaxed”. These aren’t exactly the words one expects to hear when describing a studying experience, but surprisingly this has been mine (I’m living the dream).

I wouldn’t have anticipated that my honours year would be as relaxed as it has been thus far, despite being told by others, who had previously done their honours in bioinformatics, that it would be quite smooth. I can truly say this has been the case, if anything, it has been a bit too relaxed and too good to be true.

I keep waiting for a moment where the stress and work starts to pile up, but it never seems to come. I suspect, this is because my first 3 years of my undergraduate studies have been nothing but work, work, work, deadlines and more work. I’ve become so accustomed to working at a high level that having less work than usual makes me feel like I am not doing enough or under-performing – this is worsened by being surrounded by people that are constantly working.

The feeling of under-performing has been a bit of a pain, and has made me question whether taking a “break” between my medical studies was a great idea. I sometimes feel like I’m wasting time because I’m not working enough, and that maybe I should have just continued with medicine like the rest of my friends. To deal with these feelings, I’ve had to remind myself that I’m not just doing “nothing”, I’m resting, and that is more than enough because I can’t pour from an empty vessel.

Despite “struggling” with “a little amount of work”, I still do have deadlines, lectures, projects and piles of journal articles to read, most of which I get to do in my own time, which can be a slippery slope if one isn’t used to learning independently.

I’ve always been an independent learner, so attending live lectures was never mandatory for me all throughout my undergraduate studies, I felt like I got more work done when I went over lecture material on my own as opposed to attending live lectures. This however, hasn’t always been the case this year, I’ve had to attend some live lectures because they were more helpful than looking over the material on my own, so striking a balance between working alone and with the help of lecturers has been something I’ve had to learn along the way.

Two other important aspects of learning independently is time-management and discipline – I don’t think people can say this enough. Knowing yourself and the pace at which you work is so important because it can help you decide when to work in order to meet your deadlines without being completely frazzled. Deciding to work early is always best, but it often doesn’t always work out, because sometimes you just want to rest, and sometimes doing so is possible, but most times, you need to be disciplined and push yourself to get the work done.

Overall, my academic experience has been a pleasant one because I’ve been afforded so much time to: put more effort in my work, rest and focus on my hobbies, and honestly, I think choosing to go into honours before going into my clinical years, has been the best decision I’ve made for myself, I definitely needed this “break”.

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